I could not wait to read this book having been present at most of the games described within its covers. I was not disappointed either,as it proved to be a trip back in time with revelations that made me sit back and wonder. It was a time when no surname was necessary when talking of anyone in the red jersey,and the results of the team meant so much to the people of Wales during a pretty bleak period. Season by season accounts brought the memories flooding back,I could almost smell the beer breaths and flowing urine on the east terrace once again! The book tends not to pile too much glorification on the men who brought us the pride,although obviously recognising their undoubted skills.Interviews with all the usual suspects give substance to my description that even the gods have warts! Gareth,Gerald,Merve,JPR,Phil,JJ,etc all give insights as to what it was like to play for Wales at that time. Contributions are also printed from Clive Rowlands,and John Dawes who had to coach the elite. Behind the match day build up details are most interesting with tales of those training days on Aberavon beach beside the Afon Lido sports complex watched by thousands. A book generally aimed for those who were there as Max Boyce once said,but also one for anyone younger who wonders why those such as I can't stop talking about those halcyon days. Buy it with confidence.
As an American, living in California and being introduced to rugby in the winter of 1973 while attending Santa Clara University, I and my teammates were lucky to have one of the top American rugby players as our coach, Mickey Ording, a prop for the Olympic Club of San Francisco. He had been on the Pacific Coast Grizzlies tour to New Zealand in our summer (their winter) of 1971, and had first hand experience of seeing the British Lions take on the All Blacks while on their tour. He also had somehow gotten a hold of 16mm film highlights of the tests, so that at a post-season get together, we were able to see Barry John, Gareth Edwards, Mike Gibson, and a number of other British stars on the pitch through those films. It was hard to get anything like that, pre-VHS and DVD age. Into the 80's it was possible to purchase a gem of a video tape, The Golden Years of Welsh Rugby, 1969-79. Of course I have the DVD now, and have watched those highlights time and time again, along with the original 101 Best Tries. I'm just about at the last chapter of this book, and have had a hard time putting it down; and I have learned a few things: some players for Wales did go "north" to league, information about various injuries and replacement players not always the first choice of selectors, how Barry John came to realize that he had what he considered to be unwarranted and unwanted fame and celebrity. This is a book well-researched and full of stories within a story by so many who played for Wales, and some against Wales, during that time. I'd recommend it to anyone who is a rugby history aficionado, such as myself.
Really enjoyed it. Told the story so well and lots of fresh insight from wide sources telling that the great team reinvented itself quite often. I remember ever game since 1972! The first try was by JPR. That day my Grandpa told me he played for Wales. Rhys Stenner, Author, Rugby and Revival.
If you were there in the 70's following Wales you will love every second you spend reading this delightful book. It took me back to days spent at Twickenham, Cardiff Arms Park and Parc des Princes, and is beautifully written. I did not want it to end. You will not be disappointed... a wonderful tribute to JPR, Reames, The King, Gareth, Benny, et al and a trip down memory lane.
Seeing as I wasn't around in the 70's, this gave me an idea of why the players of this era were so revered by their peers and the country as a whole. It covers all the key events and is a great insight into how the players of the amateur era lived and played the game. This makes their achievements even more astonishing. The book is interspersed with the social and economic issues that were dominating Wales at the time and made it apparent why the teams success was such a welcome distraction for people who were facing cuts and redundancies etc. It is this back story that adds to the romance of the era and why people hold the players in such regard for everything they achieved during such an era. Anyone who is a fan of Welsh rugby should read this, whether they were around in the 70's or not as this was a brilliant period in the national game. A great read.
I was there but never realised how good those days were or what had really been achived. The book was unbiased and full of anecdotes that I had never heard. A must for all rugby buffs whether you are Welsh or not! Got to be in every sports fans collection.